Three Insights Learned from Building Our Transatlantic Practice

The Catalyst Advisors office in Europe was opened in 2014 to develop new business for the firm on the continent and to support U.S. companies doing business in Europe. Since then, we have developed a full-scale transatlantic collaboration and fluency, which are key components of our success.

Every assignment in Europe has an element of cross-Atlantic complexity that we address by leveraging our U.S. colleagues and by tapping into the U.S. market. In addition, as our European client base grows, we help our clients shape their teams and boards to go public in the United States—while also helping North American clients come to Europe. Everyone at Catalyst Advisors shares their experiences, resources, and suggestions with one another to achieve the best results collectively. Our clients trust our knowledge of challenging international talent dynamics and see us not only as executive recruiters but also as business advisors.


Our mix of professional expertise and personal touch sets Catalyst Advisors apart. One recent example was our work with a midsize pharmaceutical company in Southern Europe that needed a new Head of Research & Development. It was the final step of a major generational change within the company. The head needed to relocate to the company’s headquarters, which was neither a mainstream pharma hub nor a capital city.


We needed to find an executive who not only had the right professional profile but who would make a long-term commitment and garner the support of their family. It would mean a spouse changing jobs and kids changing schools, and moving to a location that is not on the usual map for expats.


We identified potential candidates on both sides of the Atlantic as well as in Asia, looking for Europeans who might come back for the right opportunity. We found a Northern European in Boston who had broad international experience and had relocated his family multiple times. He quickly demonstrated a strong interest in the role and a genuine intention to relocate to Southern Europe. Anyone who lacked the motivation to relocate and experience a foreign culture would not have succeeded.


What we learned from the engagement was that a company located in a smaller pharma or biotech hub can still win the battle for top talent by keeping a few key insights in mind.


Transparency: While we wanted to capture candidates’ imaginations, we had to be frank so they could buy in completely. The candidate would take over an R&D group that for 25 years had been run by an established leader. That leader, then ready to retire, was seen as an institution within the company. To some candidates, this prospect would seem daunting—while to others, it would present an exciting opportunity to drive transformation and a new chapter for the company.


Engaged Leadership: True to their culture, our client was honest about the changes and upgrades that were welcomed and needed—and they were forthcoming in accommodating the needs of the candidate. They made their leadership team and board readily available to the candidate. When it came time to close the deal, the CEO stepped in alongside us to get it over the finish line. He was authentic and warm, and he showed a genuine interest in the candidate. This was crucial, as we were competing against other companies for this candidate.


Family Matters: Being attuned to the needs of the candidate and their family is vital. It’s what allows them to feel confident committing to the company, the team, and the mission for the long term. Our client offered a compelling benefits package that included schooling fees and language learning assistance. They also let the candidate commute at the outset to allow his children to complete the school year before moving.


We are proud of our recent growth in Europe—we have attracted impressive new team members and are forging rewarding client relationships, leading to a steady flow of prestigious engagements. With our trademark blend of professional expertise and personal touch, the future is bright for Catalyst Advisors in Europe.

Three Insights Learned from Building Our Transatlantic Practice
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